Having done 4 out of 5 days in the Shenandoah Valley National Park I understand the attraction better now.
The park has the highest density of black bears of all national parks, making one’s chance of spotting a bear higher than even in the Smokies (where there are more bears but spread over a bigger area). This is a plus for families coming for a vacation and for hikers, but for hikers there are more important attractions.
And yes, the biggest attraction has to do with food. By now you understand Hiker’s Hunger as I write about food and eating often, dont I?
In the Shenandoah we had the opportunity to calorie-binge every day. The options are quite varied, camp stores where you can buy snacks, lodge restaurant where you can have a meal, holiday resort “grab&go” corners where you can get coffee/pastry/sarmies, and then the still to be experienced “wayside” of which i can only tell you after Saturday as that is when we would have visited one. Now these little stops are expensive, this area is a popular holidaying area and nothing is cheap. So hikers come out of the valley poor but fattenned up.
Another attraction is the picnic spots dotted around the area. Picnic tables to take a rest at iso sitting on a rock/fallen tree makes for a pleasant change. And often the sites have toilets! Bliss for legs which have done 1600+ kms : squatting with tired legs is really not my favorite activity!
There are also numerous resort campgrounds with coin operated showers and washing machines that makes life easier. That is if you dont want to abuse your wallet further by sleeping in a lodge.
Lastly, but importantly, the terrain makes for much easier walking, we shaved off about 60-90 mins a day on 30-34km hikes. Meaning the pressure of getting to your destination for the night is relieved. Walk, rest, walk, chat to families ambling along the trail, walk, buy something from a shop: a real holiday!!!
Heavy rain predicted for Sunday. As we now have enough time to get to Harpers Ferry we may opt to spend the day in town iso getting wet on the trail. If we can push hard enough tomorrow to get to the road going to Front Royal (the town) Saturday evening or Sunday morning quite early.
We have seen quite a few of these rock flows, this one we saw today. I always wonder about the forces creating this.